When Does Lean Succeed?

By on May 28, 2015
When Does Lean Succeed?

Lean succeeds when it is supported by a shift in an organization’s culture from one focused on results to one focused on work processes. Triggering and supporting this change in focus requires a Lean management system, a crucial ingredient for successful Lean conversions. Without this basic shift in the organization’s culture, Lean will fail. It really is that simple.

This shift in culture will not occur unless the leadership team believes, talks, and walks Lean. It really is that simple.

And a leadership team that attempts to support a Lean transformation without being guided by standardized work processes will not succeed. It really is that simple.

Shift in culture. Lean management system. Standardized work. These are the key drivers of a successful Lean transformation.

As David Mann points out in his Shingo Prize winning book, Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions, “a Lean management system sustains the gains from implementing Lean production. And, Lean management extends the gains from Lean production…Lean cultures grow from robust Lean management systems.” Mann’s book provides exceptionally valuable and practical advice on how to make any Lean transformation a success.

Reviews of Mann’s book have been outstanding. Here’s a sampling:

“The book is full of new insights and polishes the most important ideas about Lean management. The new chapter on engaging executive leadership alone is worth the price of the book.”
– Peter Ward, Chair, Department of Management Science, Ohio State University

“This book has long been by ‘go-to’ on Lean management practices that that help create a culture of continuous improvement and excellence…The healthcare examples make it even more relevant as a must-read for any hospital leader who aims to move beyond Lean tools.”
– Mark Graban, author of Lean Hospitals, co-author of Healthcare Kaizen and The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen

Recognizing the great value of David Mann’s contribution to the literature of Lean, we have developed the Lean Culture Change Symposia, a ten session series of two-hour discussions focused on helping participants extract as much value as possible from Mann’s book. The sessions are highly interactive and have been exceptionally well received. Our Corporate Services Group’s Lean facilitators have the knowledge and skills needed to trigger debate, guide arguments, help a group navigate toward consensus, and stimulate a strong desire to apply what’s been discussed on the job. This is the stuff of exceptionally productive discussions, discussions that drive action and produce results.

Here’s a sampling of comments from participants:

  • “Over the years I have seen frustration from people who expect Lean to happen overnight. I learned a lot about how to keep people focused and keep the morale up by convincing them that this is a process, not a single event.”
  • “Excellent class.”
  • “The facilitator did a great job of presenting the material.”
  • “I have changed my focus from “employee” to the “process and work environment.”

Insights gained through participation in the Lean Culture Change Symposia can be a game changer. I’d like to talk with you about what they would do for your leadership team. You can reach me anytime at 314-303-0612. Let’s talk. When Lean works it drives remarkable improvements in productivity and profitability.

About George Friesen

George Friesen serves as Business Practice Leader - Lean Manufacturing for the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College. He has led the College's Lean business practice area since 2000. Prior to joining the College, George worked for Maritz Performance Improvement Company. Over the past 35 years, he has served a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, specializing during the past eleven years in Lean Manufacturing, focusing especially on the 5S System, Lean leadership and thinking processes, Value Stream Mapping, and Lean team building. George is a graduate of Washington University (AB), Webster University (MA), and United States Air Force Flight Training.

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